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"A Real Live Dead One" is an album, recorded live over various nights, by UK metal act Iron Maiden, released in 1998 on EMI records. It was originally released as two separate live albums, "A Real Dead One" and "A Real Live One", and featured Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Dave Murray (guitar), Janick Gers (guitar), Steve Harris (bass) and Nicko McBrain (drums).
It took Iron Maiden 5 years to cash in on "A Real Live One" and "A Real Dead One" respectively, by re-releasing both as a double live album. "A Real Dead One" contains songs from Maiden's early days and albums up until "Powerslave" album from 1984, and its counterpart "A Real Live One" has tracks from albums between 1986-92.
Disc One (A Real Dead One)
The album begins with "The Number of the Beast" which has actor Barry Clayton reciting a verse from Revelations:
"Woe to you, oh earth and sea,
for the devil sends the beast with wrath
because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast
for it is a human number. Its number is six hundred and sixty six."
Steve Harris said "In America, a right-wing political pressure group accused the band of being Devil worshippers and of trying to pervert their kids. It was mad. They completely got the wrong end of the stick and they obviously hadn't read the lyrics. They just wanted to believe all that rubbish about us being Satanists." Musically, it's one of Iron Maiden's most famous songs and no concert the band puts on is without the song in the set list somewhere. Here's the strange thing, though. Don't let the song title fool you for one second because it's almost a happy-go-lucky number but with metal roots. The chorus is very pop-like and you can't help but sing along to it. Even close to the end of the song where Bruce sings, "I'm coming back. I will return. And I'll possess your body and I'll make you burn", you still get the feeling that it's a joyous song with no evil intent. Ask many fans what their favourite Iron Maiden song is, and a lot will tell you it's this one. Having said that, it's a strange one to start the concert with and I don't ever remember Maiden doing this except for this particular tour.
I like everything about "The Trooper" from the opening to the galloping guitars with a good dosage of brilliant vocals from Dickinson and wonderful solo playing by Smith & Murray. I especially like the way the two guitarists play the same main riff but with slightly different pitches. It's a song about the Crimean War between 1853-56 and Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade", published in 1854. Steve Harris said "The opening is meant to try and recreate the galloping horses in the charge of the light brigade. It's an atmospheric song." When Maiden play this song live, Dickinson will don a British officer's uniform from that time period and wave the British flag on stage. That is something I really look forward to when I see the band in other countries.
There are punk rock tones in "Prowler", and the main riff has stood the test of time over the 30+ years since it was released on the album and the song structure is perfect for a debut song on a debut album. Steve Harris noted "This is a very special song for us. When we made the "Soundhouse Tapes" we took the actual tape to Neal Kay who was a DJ in north London. He used to have a heavy metal chart which was compiled from record requests and printed in the magazine "Sounds". "Prowler" got to be number one just from requests for the demo tape. That's why we had the tape made into a record, because so many kids were asking us how they could get hold of the demo tapes."
"Transylvania" is an instrumental song, but this is a track that's something very special. I especially love the guitar riff intro which is paced nicely by a clever drum beat that practically stays at the same tempo throughout the song. I do have to wonder if an older and more experienced Iron Maiden would have joined this and "Phantom of the Opera" together, because they seem to go hand-in-hand without even trying to do. Steve Harris commented "The initial idea on this one was to have lyrics. It originally had a melody line for the vocal, but when we played it, it sounded so good as an instrumental that we never bothered to write lyrics for it."
"Remember Tomorrow" starts off slow with a haunting melody before the pre-chorus guitars join in, blending well with the vocals. Now here's the thing about this song - I like it, and I obviously think Dickinson's vocal range is impressive - but I often wish Rob Halford would cover it, or at least collaborate with Maiden to sing it because it's suited to his style perfectly. What I love the mostly about this song is its ability to impress without really trying; simple yet very effective. When I saw Iron Maiden at Ozzfest a few years ago in the States, they played a back catalogue of older material and this was one of those. Bruce Dickinson does a stellar job of singing it but I often pine for Di'Anno on this one whenever I hear it live. Steve Harris said "This song is an old stage favourite. The crowds used to be really into this one. Paul Di'Anno wrote the lyrics to it and I wrote the music. Actually, I played him the parts I had and he worked it out. There's a lot of feeling in this song. Mind you, I think any song should be filled with feeling, but on the slow parts of this one I think there is that extra measure."
"Where Eagles Dare" begins by giving us a taste of what Nicko McBrain is capable of on the drums with a quick fill before the song kicks in, and Dickinson's vocals are on top form here as they are expected to be. It's a song based on the novel of the same name written by Alistair MacLean in 1967 which was subsequently made into a film starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton. It's about a rescue mission of an American soldier in World War II from a Nazi Prisoner of War camp. I love the bridge on this song which sets the tone perfectly. If the song, Steve Harris said "The instrumental section is supposed to sound like a machine gun. It's not very loud in the mix but we wanted it that way so people who listened to it a couple of times would wonder what it was."
"Sanctuary" is an old Iron Maiden song that appeared on the US version of Maiden's eponymous debut album. The artwork for the single caused plenty of controversy with Derek Riggs drawing a depiction of band mascot, Eddie, crouched over what appears to be the body of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with a knife in one hand. The song is excellent with a great riff that gives you goosebumps when it's played, and Bruce usually has the audience screaming at the tops of their lungs during the breakdown of the song.
The best thing about "Running Free" is the interaction between bass and drums, which almost play together as one and complement each other brilliantly with both galloping over the guitars which take a back seat. Of the song, Steve Harris said "This came together when I put a riff to the main drum beat by Doug Sampson. The part in the middle I worked up from a bunch of bits I wrote. We thought we'd try and do something a bit different. Most songs have a guitar solo in the middle, but we thought instead of a guitar solo we'd have a guitar break which would consist of guitar runs and harmonies.
"Run to the Hills" has one of the most memorable Iron Maiden drum beats to it, and also one of the most recognised main riffs. Steve Harris commented on the song "This song is about the American Indians. It's written from both sides of the picture. The first part is from the side of the Indians and the second part is from the side of the soldiers. I wanted to try and get the feeling of galloping horses. When you play this one, be careful not to let it run away with you." As Steve Harris says, you really do get the feeling of horses at full pelt across the fields in battle with the galloping strums on the guitar strings. This is very easily my all-time favourite Iron Maiden song, partly for the nostalgia of being a kid and buying the single and partly because it's a very good number. In fact, just thinking about the song reminds me of the old red record player I had, loading up vinyl on the holding arm to play next.
"2 Minutes to Midnight" dabbles into the realm of the Cold War, and the title is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, which once reached 11:58pm, the closest to global nuclear war it's ever reached. The main riff on this song is one of the best in Maiden's entire catalogue, and the lyrics are obviously quite dark and heavy. Dickinson's vocal range is tested to the limit in the chorus, but once again it's the sound of that bass which steals the show. This is another song I always look forward to hearing whenever I see the band live.
You can absolutely guarantee that every Iron Maiden concert will feature the song which gave the band its name. In the studio the song sounds a little watered on the guitar riffs but once you hear it live, it completely comes into its own. Eddie the Head makes an appearance, too, and although it's difficult to name my favourite 10 Iron Maiden songs, I'm pretty sure this will be in there. Steve Harris said "As long as I can remember, we've closed our set with this song. It's quite simple; the bass line is fairly straightforward as is the drumming, but the guitar is over the top with harmony, and the bass is descending behind it. I think this makes it pretty special."
"Hallowed be Thy Name" is a monster of a track. Bruce's vocals are delivered with venom and ferocity here, especially when he holds the note for a full 14 seconds when singing the line "the sands of time for me are running low." This truly is a magnificent song, and one that I really enjoy listening to a lot. Some complexly played riffs are present but the song holds itself together well, building up from a slow and broody start through to a fast-paced ending. Steve Harris said "That's one of my favourite songs and still one we play live. We're trying to create a mood with the build-up of the song. The classical guitar-like opening was Dave building the mood, with bells in the background. It's about someone with only a few hours left to live. In concert the end part of this one takes off."
Disc Two (A Real Live One)
I love the arrangement of "Be Quick or be Dead" ranging from the riffs to Dickinson's venomous vocals, and it's one of the fastest songs Maiden has recorded in the Bruce Dickinson era, quickly galloping and pounding its way through. Dickinson said of the song "This deals with money, dodgy business, and corruption. Some people are supposed to rule your life and deal with financial stuff, but you just can't trust them because they try to cheat you at the first opportunity. But if you have no choice but to work with them, then the only way you can deal with it is to be more clever than them."
"From Here to Eternity" is up next and it's become a live favourite with the crowd singing along to the chorus without fail. It's another song about Charlotte, the fictitious prostitute from the east end of London that has been written about the band in other songs. The bridge on this song is amazing with Janick Gers and Dave Murray sharing the solo duties. Some people have heavily criticised the album and this song in particular, but I still go to an Iron Maiden concert hoping to hear this one, and often do get to hear it. The band obviously knows what the fans want to hear so it can't be that bad!
"Can I Play With Madness" is perhaps the most well-known song off "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son", and continues the concept story with the father going to see a prophet to find out what his visions mean and what, if anything, he can do about them. The prophet is telling him he really doesn't want to know what he knows but the man needs to know. It's a cheerful song with some great guitar work by Murray and Smith who seem to be on another planet when it comes to recording music, in the sense that they're together in perfect unison. You don't really hear Steve Harris' bass too much on this song, but that's not the be all, end all, because it's a song that doesn't require much bass or drums, and when you've got those twin guitar attacks backed with Dickinson's amazing voice, the rhythm section is barely noticeable.
"Wasting Love" is an Iron Maiden ballad that I really don't enjoy for the simple reason that it's not the sort of song I like to hear from a band of this stature, and this was filler on what should be one of heavy metal's defining albums of the 1990s in "Fear of the Dark". The only good thing about it comes near the end with a well-planned guitar solo which is backed up by some wonderful riffs. Bruce Dickinson: "It's about those who jump from one bed into another, those who sleep with whoever comes their way, without giving or receiving whatever they're looking for, because they are very lonely. They are lonely within themselves, but they are continuously in action, collecting short-term relationships in order to fill the void they feel."
"Tailgunner" gets off to a flyer (no pun intended), as Dickinson's love for aviation shows through in this song about World War II, and it was the tailgunner's job to man the .50 cal guns at the rear of the plane. The song sounds good instrument-wise, but I think it lacks in the chorus - "Climb into the sky never wonder why, tailgunner. You're a tailgunner" - I think if the band could rewrite that now, they probably would.
"The Evil That Men Do" is one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs to hear live. There's a soft guitar intro before Nicko chimes the rest of the band into the song and classic Iron Maiden, packed full of riffs, wonderful bass tones, great drumming and, of course, the excellent vocals of Bruce Dickinson, who, it has to be said, has never sounded any better than on this album. The song is about how the seventh son has been conceived and the devil's daughter is very prominent in his life with her wishes and commands. The devil wants nothing more than for her to seduce him so that he will give his life to Satan but maybe his daughter is having second thoughts. Maybe she is not beyond saviour.
"Afraid to Shoot Strangers" is another of those Iron Maiden songs that will infuriate some but others will love it. It has a haunting melody to it and a marching drum beat which signifies soldiers preparing to go to war. I like the atmospheric sound it takes on, building up to a slow, sombre guitar solo in the middle before launching into the faster bridge. It's during the bridge where I think Nicko McBrain could have thought more about his drum parts and thrown in a roll here and there instead of single hitting the toms. Once the bridge is over, it's back to slowing down and the song finishes the same way it started. Bruce Dickinson said "The song was written about the people that fought in the Gulf War. It's a song about how bad war is, and how it's started by politicians and has to be finished by ordinary people that don't really want to kill anybody."
"Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter" a really good and popular song to hear live. Not just because it reached number one in the UK singles charts, but because it rocks more than any other, which isn't that difficult on an album that doesn't quite pull the strings. There is a very catchy chorus with some neat guitar work along with it that made it a live favourite for some years to come, and Bruce still thanks the audience for making it Top of the Pops.
"Heaven Can Wait" rolls in and it has become a staple live favourite over the years and is a song about near death experiences, life after death and everything in between. The narrator has died and is going through the tunnel of light, but he cannot understand what's happened to him. Throughout the song, he tries to work it all out but he really doesn't want to go. In the end he's back in his own body, confused and tired, and wondering if his experiences really happened. This is a song I always look forward to hearing whenever Iron Maiden play live because of the audience participation on the chorus towards the end of the song. It's a fast-paced number but if I had to be picky, the synthesizer maybe could have been taken out of the studio version.
"The Clairvoyant" begins with Steve Harris' unmistakeable bass playing before the guitars and drums join in. This is the turning part of the story as far as the seventh son is concerned as he loses the battle with himself. He's getting stronger by the day but loses complete control of himself which leads to his death and being reborn again. With the story taking the path that it does, you'd imagine the song would be sombre and heart-felt, but instead it's pretty up-beat. With a brilliantly catchy chorus of lyrics which end with the true statement of "As soon as you're born, you're dying". This is one of my favourite songs to hear live and I love the artwork on the single.
"Fear of the Dark" is probably in the top ten of my all-time favourite Iron Maiden songs - it really is that good. There are not many better feelings at a concert than watching the band play this song when it's an open-air gig and the sky is black, as it was back in 1992. I've witnessed this a few times and it really doesn't get much better than that. This is the song that Dickinson gives it his all in his vocal capacity and it's a real shame that he didn't let go with all guns blazing for most of the others. Bruce Dickinson: "Steve, who wrote it, is really afraid of the dark. It's the story of a man who walks in a park at night and, as it's getting darker, he sees all sorts of worrying things. He becomes totally paranoid because his imagination is working overtime. It's a great track."
In summary, I'm not a huge fan of what Maiden did here, as I bought both albums separately when they were released, but I slowly came around to realising that this is what the band should have done all along. What you get on this release is the best of the Iron Maiden of old, and the best of Iron Maiden of older. Of course, that was different when it was released, but you get what I mean. Fans of the band will love this double album. Me, I must prefer both separate for some reason!
Disc One (A Real Dead One)
1. The Number of the Beast
2. The Trooper
5. Remember Tomorrow
6. Where Eagles Dare
8. Running Free
9. Run to the Hills
10. 2 Minutes to Midnight
11. Iron Maiden
12. Hallowed be Thy Name
Disc Two (A Real Live One)
1. Be Quick or be Dead
2. From Here to Eternity
3. Can I Play With Madness
4. Wasting Love
6. The Evil That Men Do
7. Afraid to Shoot Strangers
8. Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter
9. Heaven Can Wait
10. The Clairvoyant
11. Fear of the Dark
My rating: 7/10
This is an odd album to review, as it was originally released as two different albums, which is how I have them, but it was released as one when all the albums were remastered in 1998. The first disc focuses on earlier tracks, all of them being from the first 5 albums, whilst the second disc is only tracks from the (at the time) 4 most recent albums. I've only given it 2 stars because the first disc does drag things down, and its nowhere near the standard of other live albums.
So as I said this album isnt anywhere near as good as Live Ater Death, or indeed any other live Maiden album. Out of all the live Maiden I've got, and including bootlegs we're well into double figures, this is the weakest. One of the reasons Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden was because he didnt feel the same passion he used to, and it shows. On some of the tracks, whilst not singing badly, he doesnt sound as good as he used to.
He sounds better on the second disc, with The Clairvoyant and Fear Of The Dark being standouts, but on the first disc he just sounds a bit weak to me. Prowler doesnt quite have the energy it should have, nor does Run To The Hills. Its not that its bad as such, just that for most fans theres no real reason to buy it when theres so many better Maiden live albums out there.
If you happen to find a copy of A Real Live One its worth getting it, but thats unlikely, what with it being out of print for over a decade! I'd only really recommend this to Maiden fanatics, for first timers go and get Live After Death or Rock In Rio.
Best Tracks - Fear Of The Dark, Transylvania and Heaven Can Wait.
The 1998 remastering and recanonising of Iron Maidens works collected together 1993s A Real Live One and its not-very-long-awaited successor A Real Dead One into this sensible single volume, with a fairly ridiculous title. The two separate entities compliment each other excellently, as a deliberate decision was clearly made to memorialise the bands extensive (even at this point) history, while at the same time acting as an unofficial farewell tour for singer Bruce Dickinson, who had announced his plan to depart the band before the albums were released.
Bruces performance in Iron Maiden deteriorated infamously between their glory years and the back-to-basics approach of the early 90s material, largely abandoning his trademark operatic style for an unconvincing snarl on both new studio recordings and live performances of older songs. Worn out and disillusioned, his disappointing performance on live albums from this era sadly reaches its peak on A Real Dead One, originally the second half of the collection but rearranged to come chronologically first on this re-release, as he completely butchers favourites from the bands first five albums. While this flaw could be generously overlooked, as it can for the excellent Live at Donington show recorded around the same time, the problems sadly dont end with Dickinson.
Although more recent live releases rival this collection in terms of pointlessness, particularly in the tired regurgitation of the bulk of the set-list each time, A Real Live Dead One undeniably provides the more excruciating listening experience. Bassist and primary songwriter/control freak Steve Harris continued to push for a raw production sound in apparent embarrassment over the increasing extravagance of Iron Maiden live shows and songs throughout the 80s, and evidently failed to learn anything from the weak sound of 1990s No Prayer for the Dying album. The sound quality is indeed raw, but the energy required is entirely lacking in most of the band members, with the exception of mad drummer Nicko McBrain who is as reliable as he is formulaic. Anyone who has seen an Iron Maiden live video from 1990 onwards will recognise the contributions of Janick Gers, Adrian Smiths poorer replacement, as listening to this recording you can practically see him holding his white guitar high in the air for no particular reason and jumping on the spot during the large gaps in sound where he should be soloing.
Disc 1: A Real Dead One
1.The Number of the Beast
6.Where Eagles Dare
9.Run to the Hills
10.2 Minutes to Midnight
12.Hallowed Be Thy Name
Disc 2: A Real Live One
1.Be Quick or Be Dead
2.From Here to Eternity
3.Can I Play with Madness?
6.The Evil That Men Do
7.Afraid to Shoot Strangers
8.Bring Your Daughter...to the Slaughter
9.Heaven Can Wait
11.Fear of the Dark
Compared to the previous live effort Live After Death, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest live recordings of all time (and probably my favourite album ever), the sound of the guitars is noticeably weak and overpowered by the bass range and the far-too-audible crowd, especially obvious in A Real Dead One which features much of the same material as that earlier classic, but played with only a shade of the skill and enthusiasm. The obvious area in which this album excels is the inclusion of material not found on Live After Death, including the whole of A Real Live One which features material recorded after 1985. Even on the other disc, where the band plays older songs, almost half of the performance consists of previously unreleased live songs, mostly from the debut album. The inherent drawback is that the songs played on Live After Death were all really, really good songs, so while its nice for the collector to have something different, its also a shame for the casual fan who misses out on gems like Phantom of the Opera, Children of the Damned and Powerslave in favour of a few more good, but unexceptional punky songs from the debut album.
Similarly, the official release of Live at Donington offers almost exactly the same set-list of the newer songs found on the second disc in superior quality, essentially leaving only the consecutive songs Prowler, Transylvania, Remember Tomorrow, Where Eagles Dare and Sanctuary from the first disc as the reason to buy this album, and its not a bad reason. Its often said that Dickinsons vocal style doesnt suit the early Iron Maiden material, which was originally recorded with the gravely Paul DiAnno, and nowhere is this more present than in these afore-mentioned songs. Transylvania is an old instrumental that only sounds like filler here, although Where Eagles Dare is quite a treat, the only song from 1983s Piece of Mind album apart from the overplayed The Trooper. With its recognisable drum intro and powerful riffs, theres not a lot wrong with this recording apart from Dickinson forgetting a lot of the words.
Nevertheless, the highlight of each disc comes at the end, when the band unleash their overplayed-to-death but still fantastic epics Hallowed Be Thy Name, on the first disc, and Fear of the Dark on the second. The drawn-out melancholy suits the tired middle-aged men perfectly, as they would unfortunately choose to demonstrate ad nauseam on several studio albums to follow before things started getting interesting again in the new millennium and A Real Live Dead One could be all but forgotten about. Dickinson returned to the fold, eradicating the farewell tour incentive to buy this, as did Adrian Smith, whose presence was much more important and noticeably lacking on this release. Then again, fans who feel alienated by the more progressive route taken on the last two studio albums, which culminated in the band playing the excellent A Matter of Life and Death album in its entirety on the first leg of the recent tour, may take Steve Harris-style comfort in these largely uncomplicated heavy metal anthems. Finally, the artwork is far from legendary; A Real Live One is nice enough with its light blue and red colour scheme and the bands zombie mascot Eddie tearing through some live wires, but A Real Dead One simply depicts Eddie as a D.J. in a hellish club, where he is presumably playing this substandard recording of Iron Maiden classics and mediocrity. That may explain the clenched fists and angered expression.
The recent trend of Iron Maidens label EMI has been to release an official live album for every major tour, apparently to prevent bootlegging but essentially to turn a greater profit, and there are only so many times the die-hard fan can bring themselves to listen to Run to the Hills and Running Free. As such, A Real Live Dead One is a nice, but largely flawed memorial of a specific and turbulent period of Iron Maidens history, featuring a wealth of songs both old and new that would scarcely be heard elsewhere. Except, obviously, on the Live at Donington album, which is essentially the same, only played with more expertise and spirit, and without the rubbish production job. Really, theres no reason not to just buy that instead.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Number Of The Beast
5 Remember Tomorrow
6 Where Eagles Dare
8 Running Free
9 Run To The Hills
10 2 Minutes To Midnight
11 Iron Maiden
12 Hallowed Be Thy Name
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Be Quick Or Be Dead
2 From Here To Eternity
3 Can I Play With Madness
4 Wasting Love
6 Evil That Men Do
7 Afraid To Shoot Strangers
8 Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter
9 Heaven Can Wait
11 Fear Of The Dark
12 Fear Of The Dark